Waste of paper. No, that's not right. That's offensive to the artists as the illustrations were brilliant,but there may as well have been no words. SeWaste of paper. No, that's not right. That's offensive to the artists as the illustrations were brilliant, but there may as well have been no words. Seriously. Very little happens. At least very little that makes sense or contributes to plot progression. Only the last few pages have any real meaning with a humdinger of a cliffhanger that leaves you with multiple questions and countless theories.
We meet Dionysus and Prince lookalike Innana. We find out some superfans believe if they kill a god then they'll absorb their powers, which isn't true for everyone except Baphomet - maybe. Ananke seems to be manipulating the gods into making themselves vulnerable enough for her to kill them. (Is she stealing their lives to maintain immortality? Or is she 'removing' troublemakers?) Ananke deliberately told Bap not to kill other gods because he alone could absorb their remaining time on Earth to extend his own life, and of course, what does Bap do? He's on Ananke's to-kill list after he takes Innana's life. Baphomet's symbolic upside down crucifixion of Innana was interesting. That and Innana's forgiving Baphomet and warning him that stealing his life force will just prolong Bap's misery. It's also hinted that Bap is the one behind framing Lucifer for the judge's death. And finally our naive protagonist Laura is bumped off by Ananke after she turns her into Persephone.
Superfan Laura being murdered during the afterglow of becoming a god came as a shocking cliffhanger. Although I'm not sure I believe she's truly gone due to the god she became. Ananke could've killed her when she was still human, so why didn't she? Persephone travels between two worlds and is separated from her husband in the Underworld and reunited with her mother every six months. Might this have something to do with it?
Taking Laura's parents' lives may have been a tactical move. Perhaps Laura's mother would take on the role of Persephone's mother Demeter. Upset at the loss of her daughter to Hades for half the year, Demeter brings on winter by withdrawing her power over vegetation growth allowing crops to wither and winter to take hold. Laura's mother may not have powers but she could turn the world against the gods after watching Ananke murder her innocent daughter.
We're told only twelve gods are remade. Cassandra turns out to be the twelfth, Urdr, the Norse goddess of fate and a seer of past, present and future as part of the trio of Norns. Notice Cassandra's name is that of the Greek prophetess cursed by Apollo to never be believed. Well, that happens here, too.
Laura is the thirteenth god. (How's that possible?) Being Persephone may explain why her presence is so readily accepted by the gods of the Underworld in Baphomet and The Morrigan since she's married to Hades, by the sky gods Baal and Amaterasu as she's the daughter of Zeus, the love and fertility god Innana as Persephone is also the daughter of harvest goddess Demeter, and finally Dionysus since she's his mother (and Zeus is his father, if you're wondering. Incest, yo!)
The Faust Act didn't exactly blow me away. I'm still frustrated with these characters. They feel shallow and superfluous. Except for Lucifer and she's dead. I miss her. Cassandra feels like Luci-lite and I'm not digging her angst. And Laura's desperation is off-putting.
Having the two characters with the most stage time whacked by the same person in the same way is repellent and repetitive. Whether you loved them or hated them, Lucifer and Laura were our main connections to this universe. By seeing the world through their eyes we grew attached to them. Who's left for us to care about?
A British setting (loved seeing the Excel Centre hosting Fantheon as they hosted fan event LonCon3 last year which I attended), a mixed race protagonist, plenty of non-stereotypical GLBT and non-white characters, vibrant illustrations and a fascinating mythology are all things I admire in the W+D universe. However, a jumpy narrative, the lack of plot progression and meaningful dialogue is difficult to tolerate.
Twelve gods, I think, were too many to adequately develop. It feels as if they're thrown into scenes or forced to converse with Laura just because they've had very little stage time and the audience hasn't had a chance to get to know them yet. This has slowed the pace of the story to plodding (I was so bored reading this) and plot threads have been too quickly resolved (who and why were snipers shooting at the gods?) which was anticlimactic or forgotten until the closing act (Laura's obvious god ability). The Faust Act did a lot more in 144 pages than Fandemonium did in 166.
Reviews of the next few issues of the comic aren't reassuring. It seems plot is completely absent in favour of telling back stories. If one of those is Ananke's then that might be helpful. Should my library purchase the third volume, I may skim it. The Wicked + The Divine's mythology is compelling but I'm not willing to waste money on it....more
I don't know why I bothered. The illustrations may be a little better but the disjointed and confusing short story and its implications definitely werI don't know why I bothered. The illustrations may be a little better but the disjointed and confusing short story and its implications definitely weren't for me.
Serenity's crew suddenly become filthy rich. For a while, anyway. And their 'what I'd do if I were rich' dreams were the only good thing about Better Days.
Engineer Kaylee's dream was obvious - sleeping with Simon and her own ship workshop. Doctor Simon would return to his homeworld with sister River so they can work together in a hospital. Jayne wishes to be a distinguished military captain of a ship, plus some x-rated stuff - no surprise there. Spiritual man Shepherd Book shocks the crew by saying he'd spend his riches on prostitutes, cigars and card games, but he was only kidding. And Wash dreams of a luxury cruiser to pilot and a baby with wife Zoe. I was hoping to find out Zoe's fantasy as she's a closed book but disappointingly it was never revealed and neither was Inara's .
It's implied by Inara that Mal arranged to have the millions delivered into their hands stolen from them so that his crew would remain together, because that is his dream.
A horny and impatient Jayne trying to learn from Simon how to woo a high class courtesan so he can get laid was funny and classic Jayne. And apparently Inara and Simon slept together. Awkward.
Has anyone noticed that Zoe appears to have been decapitated on the cover? Her eyes being vacant and bloodshot adds to the effect. Very odd.
Better Days isn't much better than series debut Those Left Behind. Disjointed and incoherent storytelling, no character growth and little depth make this series pointless as it adds nothing to the Firefly canon.
I seriously doubt I'll read any more of these graphic novels. It's too painful to see these wonderful characters in this disrespectful form. So much more could've been made of these comics if only Joss Whedon put in as much effort as he did with his TV and movie work. One wonders if Brett Matthews is doing all the writing and Joss is just signing off, similar to the James Patterson arrangement....more
"I will gladly do anything you ask as long as it does not harm humans, animals, or property. I will avoid putting myself in danger unless it is to pr
"I will gladly do anything you ask as long as it does not harm humans, animals, or property. I will avoid putting myself in danger unless it is to protect you or by your command. The Tanaka logo on my wrist is the only physical indication that I am an android and I am required by law to keep it exposed at all times. I am not allowed to handle legal tender or helm a vehicle, so please keep that in mind if you send me out on errands. I am in your hands, now. Please take good care of me."
Meet Ada the android
An emotionally depressed 27-year-old Alex in a future I, Robot society with Batteries Not Included robot elves receives his grandmother's birthday present - a Tanaka X5, the first human-looking andorid. (Anyone else get confused with Jessica Alba's X5 genetically enhanced generation in Dark Angel?). Alex has no intention of keeping his grandmother's hugely expensive gesture, finding her sexual partnership with an X5 a little creepy.
Otto looks remarkably like the Fix-its in Batteries Not Included (1987)
For safety, no android is autonomous. Don't bother asking one for an opinion, they have no preferences. Their default is whatever their owner wishes. At least that's what the public's been told, though recent events in the news seem to contradict this. Alex tries to return his X5 but found his conscience couldn't allow it. Her childlike intellect (they learn through experience) leaves her vulnerable. One friend phrased it as ' . . . like getting a girlfriend and a baby at the same time.' No one would treat a baby as property. Instead Alex saw her potential. Loneliness probably also had a hand in his decision to keep the newly named Ada. After all, what's better than having a friend you know won't betray or leave you.
In order to help Ada, Alex searches for the truth behind the headlines using Prime Wave-X, which is a way to telepathically connect to a virtual reality internet via a brain implant. Can androids be more than what they are? Can they be freed from the shackles of slavery? Ada's eventually unlocked like a mobile phone - a painful and illegal process androids aren't guaranteed to survive, and should the authorities find out, everyone involved would either be decommissioned or imprisoned.
Alex's depression and awkwardness in response to this new responsibility were realistic, although he does come across as monotone and unemotional with his lack of conviction or eagerness about anything in particular, which made it harder to care about him. Strange, because I immediately liked Ada, the one without human feeling.
However, the fantastic detailed worldbuilding and illustrations more than made up for it, in my opinion. The technology involved in Alex's morning routine, the news broadcasts reporting on controversial android stories and the virtual reality internet forums have all inspired me to read the next volume. That being said, I've seen I, Robot at least a dozen times and Alex + Ada is very similar in its philosophy. They share themes of slavery, freedom and what it means to be human.
P.S. Watching TV while in the driving seat has already been done. At least Luna's way looks safer and less illegal....more
What kind of teenager are you that you don't have Class A drugs to hand? Hmm? Has The Daily Mail been lying to me? - Lucifer
Every 90 years twelve god
What kind of teenager are you that you don't have Class A drugs to hand? Hmm? Has The Daily Mail been lying to me? - Lucifer
Every 90 years twelve gods from multiple pantheons are reincarnated in young people to live for two years. The gods reincarnated are different each time and don't necessarily live out the full two years, as the opening pages can attest with only four gods left at the end of the last cycle in 1923, skulls perched in the empty seats. Ananke is their guardian, goddess of fate, necessity and destiny. She's their protector, but also their judge, jury and, if necessary, their executioner.
Wicked and divine these characters are not. Irritating, confusing, frustrating - definitely. Intriguing personalities are few and far between despite the range of sexualities, people of colour and genders (e.g. trans, goddesses reincarnated in male form and vice versa). Lucifer, or Luci to her friends, was witty and sarcastic and the only character of interest. I loved it when she took out the snipers. That was awesome. Annie Lennox is famous for her androgenous style with white blonde hair and matching white suit and I'm guessing Lucifer's look is based on her. Seeing Luci's downfall kind of kills any enthusiasm to read the next volume. However, the cliffhanger implies drama queen Laura is Tara, or somehow connected to Luci. This might prove entertaining, though I doubt it.
The Wicked + The Divine is certainly culturally apt. Now is the perfect time to be reincarnated if worship is required for the gods to feed. Celebrity culture is in its prime. Live fast, die young rockstars. Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. (It's odd and kind of icky that they can induce orgasms en masse - I wouldn't want to be on clean-up duty after one of their concerts.) But in an age of technology Ananke's lethal punishment is understandable. PR is everything. None of the gods can be seen to be too powerful, dangerous or out of control. Posing a possible threat to humans would incite war and fans would immediately disappear, leaving the gods vulnerable. However, to conform to a watered down version of their real selves is contrary to their nature, but necessary for survival.
Together with their short lifespan, I can understand why not all of the gods are happy. They have no purpose in their lives other than to entertain humans. A hollow existence. With their abilities you'd think governments and media groups the world over would be tripping over themselves to hire them. The devil makes work for idle hands -no wait, the devil's dead. Never mind.
Antonia Thomas as Alisha in Misfits
I appreciated the British setting in culturally diverse London, the mixed race (like me) protagonist Laura who reminded me of Misfits' Antonia Thomas, the mythological figures and of course the vibrant illustrations.
But I'm not sure why Rihanna gets to be a god in the form of Sakhmet (Egyptian mythology, warrior goddess depicted as a lioness).
Baal reminds me of a self-obsessed Puff Daddy, or whatever he calls himself these days.
Woden's fashion sense is Tron-inspired. (Norse mythology - also known as Odin.)
Baphomet is the dark-haired, shirtless rebel in a leather jacket and sunglasses.
Minerva is a 12-year-old female Elton John lookalike. (Roman mythology, virgin goddess of art, craft, wisdom and magic.)
A scene that utterly confounded me was the introduction of Baphomet and the various personas of Celtic goddess queen of death The Morrigan - Gentle Annie (bald), BadB (red-haired) and the black-haired default. They had an extremely cringe-worthy argument for no apparent reason.
The Wicked + The Divine will soon be adapted for TV by Universal Television, although I'm not sure this is wise when the graphic novel series is still in its infancy with not much material to be starting with. The graphic novels may well become novelizations of the show. As it's not being made by HBO, I won't be surprised if the language and sexual aspects are sanitized, though I hope the demographic diversity remains.
As The Faust Act is the first volume and as yet hasn't finished it's introductions of all the gods, I should probably give the series another chance so I've reserved the second volume at the library. Hopefully the mystery of who framed Luci will be solved and maybe the gods will become a bit more compelling because right now they're the opposite.
Offensive racist stereotyping, rampant sexism, an abundance of rape, clichéd and disjointed storytelling and an unwieldy cast of homogenous charactersOffensive racist stereotyping, rampant sexism, an abundance of rape, clichéd and disjointed storytelling and an unwieldy cast of homogenous characters of which to keep track - what's not to love about this 1940s noir in graphic novel form?
Choosing to read The Fade Out may have been a mistake. I judged this book by its intriguingly pretty cover. I clearly didn't take the possibility of historical gender and race issues and tropes into consideration when forming my expectations. Having never read noir before, this may be par for the course.
Brubaker's Hollywood is a sad and scummy place under the glitz-and-glamour facade. Its ruling elite are selfish, hollow alcoholics with a penchant for illicit sex, drugs and rape. It's a Catholic priest's fantasy with so many emotionally stunted sinners eager to offload their guilt, some of whom wealthy enough to furnish his coffers. Our main protagonist, Charlie, follows this particular pattern by attempting to lose his misery of PTSD from WWII in the bottom of many, many whiskey bottles. Trauma robbed him of his creativity to the point that he could no longer function as a screenwriter. That is until he entered into a deal with a fellow alcoholic screenwriter who's been blacklisted from Hollywood and now ghostwriters for Charlie. Waking up in a bathtub in a stranger's home after a bender with a thunderous hangover and no memory of the night before and stumbling out to find the lifeless body of the star actress of his movie, is how Charlie starts off The Fade Out. An intriguing beginning.
Due to its large cast, there's a list in the opening pages. Despite this I still found it difficult to follow who I was reading about as back stories are revealed one by one. Each character reads like the same person. They're far too similar. All women (bar one, so far) are victims to be used, abused, sold and murdered. Damsels in distress. Watching desperate-to-be-famous actresses meekly submitting to the sweaty hands of ageing, overweight Hollywood heavyweights is unsettling. But what really fired me up was the racist stereotyping of the sole black man as a ravisher of white women, both single and married, for which he's regularly beaten. Historically, black women could go where black men couldn't precisely because of this harmful stereotype condemning all black men for their supposedly irresistible seductive nature around white women. A step too far, in my opinion.
I'm not averse to grim situations or violent altercations. It's the monotony of it all. An absence of contrast. Where are the eccentric and charismatic characters? We have a glut of Frank Grimeses and no Homer Simpsons to balance them out.
Concentrating on character backgrounds and returning to the business of the mystery - too rarely for my tastes - meant the unfolding story felt disjointed. I easily lost the gist of what was happening and I never really got it back again. And the inclusion of real people such as politicians and Hollywood stars - Clark Gable of Gone With the Wind fame, for example - added to the general lack of originality.
I can't fault the quality of the illustrations, however, they do fail the Elliot Test in that they exclusively show female nudity.
Overall, The Fade Out is not something I enjoyed reading....more
Oliver's illustrations are lovely, except for the ginger-haired child with what I can only describe as a pink phallic object on his forehead whichappe
Oliver's illustrations are lovely, except for the ginger-haired child with what I can only describe as a pink phallic object on his forehead which appears in every depiction of him. What the hell is it? Perhaps I should just say what we're all thinking - dickhead. It's a perfect representation, no? Did the editor not notice this . . . appendage before printing? I mean, it's kind of obvious. Is it some sort of unique Australian thing of which I'm unaware?
As for the story, The Great Paper Caper introduces the idea of crime to children using animals. We investigate the theft of trees, arrest the culprit and give him a fair trial. We empathize with the bear 'criminal' and his situation; a desire to follow the family tradition to win the paper plane competition as the generations before him did. Restitution is then demanded which was happily given by planting new trees to replace the ones stolen, and all is forgiven.
I feel like I should like this picture book more. Sadly, upon finishing I was just left cold. I'm not sure why....more
Flotsam, my first wordless picture book, feels age inappropriate. From what I gather picture books are generally aimed at 3 to 8-year-olds. I have douFlotsam, my first wordless picture book, feels age inappropriate. From what I gather picture books are generally aimed at 3 to 8-year-olds. I have doubts a child in that range would be able to fully comprehend the story without help from an elder. Does a 6-year-old know what a microscope is and what it's used for? Will they understand the images shown at different magnifications? A few Goodreads reviews say that it doesn't matter if a child understands or not, they might make up their own story.
A boy at the beach is studying the flotsam to wash up on shore where he stumbles on a camera. He develops the film to find photos of children dating back decades. It seems they each found the camera the same way and took photos of themselves holding the photo of the child who possessed the camera before them and then threw the camera back into the sea.
I struggled to comprehend the significance of the random sci-fi/fantasy artwork had to do with the story, which were actually what I liked most. They appeared more modern in style and vibrancy. A steampunk clockwork fish. Villages made of seashells on the backs of turtles. Little green men landing their spaceships underwater. Islands which are actually starfish who hop up on their legs and walk elsewhere. Mermaids.
After reading a few Goodreads reviews, I'm still not entirely sure of their relevance. I'm guessing these scenes were depicting what the boy imagined marine life was like, what he thought he might see in the developed film from the underwater camera. This is also another thing which dates the book. No one develops camera film now, not in the first world. I can't think of a single retailer which does, so continuing on that tradition would be difficult.
The camera concept feels very familiar to me. I'm sure I've seen this but with a camera phone. The discoverer took pictures of themselves and then left the phone to be discovered by someone else. The phone travelled all over the world. I just can't remember where I saw this, whether it was a news item or part of a TV show.
While there are multiethnic characters, the majority of the illustrations starring people seemed rather dated, ones I wouldn't be surprised to see in a book from the 1970s, so much so that I had to check the publication date - 2006. Huh.
Overall, I didn't enjoy this one despite its uniqueness in incorporating science and the thrill of discovery. It's not something I'd recommend....more